Scotland politics

Are the Scottish and EU referendums similar?

Is the referendum on Britain's EU membership turning into a re-run of Scotland's independence vote?

Many of the arguments have a familiar ring to them - but there are some crucial differences and, perhaps, lessons to be learned.

Claims of economic risks

Image copyright PA

Scots were warned of the risks of leaving the UK in 2014. The UK government claimed "going it alone would be costly", suggesting homeowners could face higher mortgage payments and ruling out a currency union.

Now, voters are being told of the potential economic consequences of leaving the EU. Prime Minister David Cameron has said: "A vote to leave is the gamble of the century. And it would be our children's futures on the table if we were to roll the dice."

Campaigners in favour of Scottish independence and those who back leaving the EU have been accused of understating the risks of change.

In both debates the risks of the status-quo were also highlighted. In the Scottish campaign, pro-independence activists said the NHS would be under threat if the union continued, while pro-Brexit campaigners warn of security threats staying the in the EU and a worsening migration crisis.


Business warnings

Image copyright Getty Images

During Scotland's debate, some business leaders wrote open letters urging Scotland to remain in the UK. That's happened again with the EU debate, with bosses of companies including BT, Marks & Spencer and Vodafone signing a letter saying an EU exit would deter investment in the UK.

Lloyds Banking Group said during the Scottish campaign that it would relocate to London if Scotland chose independence. Standard Life also threatened to move.

This time, HSBC has warned it will move jobs to France.


Foreign leaders intervening

Image copyright PA

Speaking months before Scotland went to the polls in 2014, US President Barack Obama said the US wanted to retain a "strong, robust, united and effective partner" in the United Kingdom.

The Spanish prime minister fired a warning at Scotland, saying it would have to negotiate its way into the EU if it left the UK (though he had a vested interest, given independence movements in Spain).

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang stressed that he wanted to see a "united" United Kingdom.

This time the EU has a vested interest in the UK staying. A number of leaders from the bloc have said they want the UK to stay.

President Obama has previously said the UK must stay in the EU to continue to have influence on the world stage and will visit the UK soon (pro-leave figures have warned him against an intervention).


Project Fear v Making the positive case

Image copyright PA

The term "project fear" was coined by a staffer from the pro-UK Better Together campaign during the independence vote.

Then Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond urged Scots to embrace the "hope of yes" rather than the "fears of no". Project Fear became a byword for negative campaigning from the pro-union side.

And the exact same term has already become one of the key phrases of the EU debate. Boris Johnson has slammed "the agents of project fear", while a spokesman for Leave EU told me "project fear" was all the UK government had to offer.

The prime minister has said he believes he is presenting "project fact". Downing Street has also sought to portray some of the the PM's speeches as focussing on the positive economic advantages of EU membership.


Speculation over the Queen

Image copyright PA

Just days before Scotland voted on its future in the UK, The Queen said she hoped "people will think very carefully about the future" to a well-wisher outside church near her Balmoral estate in Aberdeenshire.

The comment came after reports suggested she was worried about the vote. Royal officials insisted her comment did not breach the monarch's constitutional impartiality.

Buckingham Palace has again insisted the Queen is "politically neutral" over the EU referendum, following a claim in the Sun that she "backs Brexit".

The newspaper quoted sources, one of whom claims to have witnessed a "bust-up" between the Queen and pro-EU former Deputy PM Nick Clegg in 2011, where the monarch is said to have told Mr Clegg the EU was "heading in the wrong direction".

Mr Clegg called the story "nonsense".


So are there lessons for campaigners from Scotland?

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionKate Hoey believes the leave campaign will "build on what happened in Scotland"

Labour MP Kate Hoey, who is co-chair of the Labour Leave campaign, says negative campaigning turns people off referendums. And she can see parallels with the Scottish "fear factor".

"There's no doubt about it, that there was this fear factor up there, again being pushed by the prime minister and the chancellor," she says.

She adds the leave campaign will look to "build on what happened in Scotland".

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionRobert Oxley, of Leave.EU, says the campaign will have a positive vision to engage voters

Robert Oxley, head of press for Vote Leave, says his side has been looking at the lessons of the Scottish vote.

"The lessons are that you do have to have a positive vision," he says. "You do have to engage people on the ground, you have to be prepared for last minute government interventions - and not necessarily playing by the rules."


What do campaigners from the Scottish referendum say?

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionAlex Salmond says both sides in the EU referendum are running negative campaigns

Alex Salmond was the figurehead of the pro-independence 'Yes' campaign.

He agrees with Leave campaigners that people are put off by negative campaigning. But he says both sides are guilty of it this time around.

"In the Scottish referendum campaign one side was presenting hope and the vision of a better future, which is ultimately the thing that mobilises people," he says.

"When you have two fear-ridden campaign at the end of the day they fight to a no score draw".


But the UK government doesn't agree?

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionDefence Secretary Michael Fallon says the UK government's EU campaign will be a positive one

No. The UK government says its campaign is positive and argues it is pointing out the benefits of staying in a reform EU, as well as the potential dangers of leaving it.

Michael Fallon, the Scotland-born defence secretary, says the campaign this time will be "slightly different".

There was more emotion in the Scottish debate, he adds, but this is more about where is Britain strongest and best off.

"It will be based more, I hope, on the facts," he says.